Experimental Brain Research

, Volume 232, Issue 9, pp 2945–2956 | Cite as

Strategic communication and behavioral coupling in asymmetric joint action

Research Article


How is coordination achieved in asymmetric joint actions where co-actors have unequal access to task information? Pairs of participants performed a non-verbal tapping task with the goal of synchronizing taps to different targets. We tested whether ‘Leaders’ knowing the target locations would support ‘Followers’ without this information. Experiment 1 showed that Leaders tapped with higher amplitude that also scaled with specific target distance, thereby emphasizing differences between correct targets and possible alternatives. This strategic communication only occurred when Leaders’ movements were fully visible, but not when they were partially occluded. Full visual information between co-actors also resulted in higher and more stable behavioral coordination than partial vision. Experiment 2 showed that Leaders’ amplitude adaptation facilitated target prediction by independent Observers. We conclude that fully understanding joint action coordination requires both representational (i.e., strategic adaptation) and dynamical systems (i.e., behavioral coupling) accounts.


Joint action Interpersonal coordination Signaling Phase synchronization 



We thank Veronica Romero for her help with data collection and Günther Knoblich for valuable comments. Michael Richardson’s effort on this project was partially supported by the National Institutes of Health under Award Number R01GM105045. The content is solely the responsibility of the authors and does not necessarily represent the official views of the National Institutes of Health.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Cognitive ScienceCentral European UniversityBudapestHungary
  2. 2.Center for Cognition, Action and PerceptionUniversity of CincinnatiCincinnatiUSA

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